Poultices & Compresses from 1stChineseHerbsPoultices and compresses have been used for thousands of years as a natural healing method. Both are used for relief for burns, abscesses, skin infections, boils, and infections.  They can be used for both external and internal ailments. They are not used as much in modern times because they are a bit more time-consuming as compared to herbal capsules or teapills, but they are still very effective and are a good way to end a day with some relaxation.

Be sure to consult your naturopathic doctor, physician, or herbalist before beginning a new herbal regimen. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to fill out the form at the bottom of the page. 

A compress, also known as a fomentation, is a clean cloth that has been dipped in a herbal solution (like a tea or tincture) and is then applied to the affected area. They can be used either hot or cold. Many people alternate using hot and cold treatments in order to get the maximum benefits from a compress. 

Types of Compresses
Different compresses work well for different types of ailments. Below are some of the more common compresses and their uses.

Type of Compress Ingredients Uses
Chamomile Compress Chamomile tea. Soothe nervous digestion, increase circulation. Often applied to the abdominal area while alternating hot and cold treatments.
Comfrey Compress Comfrey root. Sprains.
Ginger Compress Ginger tea. Sprains, strains, inflammation, indigestion, kidney function. 
Horsetail Compress Horsetail. Sprains.
Lavender Compress Lavender tea. Often used on the onset of a headache and to relieve muscle tension.
Thyme Compress Thyme tea or extract. Coughs, colds, respiratory issues, phlegm, and congestion. Usually laid over the lung area to help with respiratory congestion.

A poultice is defined as a moist material (usually made of herbs, pastes, and other fillers) that is applied to a sore or inflamed part of the body in order to provide relief. Poultices can also be used for eruptions, boils, carbuncles, abscesses, and infected wounds.

How to Make a Poultice
Making a poultice is easy! You can make them at home in minutes.


  • 2-3 tablespoons of fresh or dried herbs and fillers (fillers might include clay, activated charcoal, or flour)
  • Hot water
  • Cheese cloth or a thin cloth for covering the affected area
  • A waterproof covering to hold the poultice in place and keep the moisture and heat in (plastic wrap works fine)

Step 1: Gather your ingredients.
Start with four ounces (4 oz.) of herbs slightly bruised. It is best for the herbs to be in a ground form.

Step 1: Gather your ingredients.

Step 2: Turn the powder into a paste.
Pour boiling hot water over the powder, enough hot water to make a thick paste.

Step 3: Put the paste on some gauze.
Apply the paste in a layer about 1/4th inch thick on a piece of cotton cloth large enough to cover the area completely. The cloth can be gauze or a light material to ensure that the herbs can penetrate through.

Step 4: Use your poultice.
To keep the heat in, cover with a piece of plastic. Leave it on until the herbs have cooled. Whole herbs can be used as well. Do not reuse the same poultice. Clean cloth is needed each time the problem area is addressed. The poultice is to be used on an area that has been thoroughly cleaned. 

Types of Poultices
Different poultices work well for different types of ailments. Below are some of the more common poultices and their uses.

Type of Poultice Ingredients Uses
Cabbage and Garlic Poultice Mashed cabbage leaves and garlic. Mastitis, swelling, and inflammation. 
Cayenne Poultice Cayenne pepper powder. Arthritis, aches, pains. 
Clay Poultice Clay. Splinters, infections. These clay packs are great for drawing splinters to the surface for easy removal. 
Comfrey Poultice Comfrey root. Strains, sprains, broken bones. This is often applied above and below a cast to help with the healing of broken bones.
Onion Poultice Sauted onions. Illness, coughing, congestion. This poultice is applied to the bottoms of the feet and then covered with socks. It can also be applied to the chest to help with respiratory issues.
Plantain Poultice Chewed up plantain leaves. Insect stings and bites. The chewed plantain leaves are often applied directly to the sting or bite area for substantial relief.
Salt Poultice Magnesium or epsom salts, baking soda. Infections, abscesses. 
Turmeric Poultice Turmeric root, milk. Boils, infections.
Yarrow Poultice Mashed yarrow root. Rashes and minor wounds.


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